by David Zazove, an Overdrive contributor and CEO of Inspire Business Center
You’ve probably been to a co-working space. People are scattered around library tables surrounded by glowing, silver Macbooks, whiteboards, chalkboards and industrial decor. You can hear whispers of buzzwords such as SaaS, Big Data, Scalable and Growth Hacking.
In our modern economy where everyone is trying to market the latest app, co-working spaces have exploded in popularity. In 2005, there was one co-working space in the United States. Now, there are about 800 spaces. Co-working spaces have started diversifying and catering to niches in the market. One example is Hive, an all female co-working space in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Co-working spaces are great for a company on the cusp. Sometimes, working from home can be depressing and inefficient, and finding a suitable office is expensive. Here are a few ways a co-working space can help your startup business:
Skill Swapping. If you are a designer, you might need help with search engine optimization (SEO). The employee who specializes in SEO might need some design advice. When you’re in a coworking space, knowledge and expertise are easily accessible and shared. The person sitting across from you might be able to help in areas of your expertise where you’re not as knowledgeable.
Be Trendy. This one is more ephemeral. Coworking spaces are trending. People assume if you’re working at the new, cool coworking space in town, then you are cool by association. Why wouldn’t you want to align yourself, or your startup, with something cool?
Networking. Networking is one large benefit of working in a coworking space. You are going to meet other freelancers and entrepreneurs; lots of them. The environment of coworking spaces is different. People want to meet other people and make connections.
Save Money. Why waste your money on an expensive lease for office space? If your company is just a few people, you’ll be better off using a coworking space. If you’re bootstrapping, save the US$2,000 you would spend on the expense loft every month, and reinvest that money into your business. Who knows! Maybe you could even use that extra cash on marketing.
Pool Clout. If you’re a small startup, chances are you have little influence on City Hall. Being a part of a coworking space can change all that. By pooling the clout of several small businesses, suddenly, your shared interest becomes sizable enough for people to take notice. Mayors give speeches at coworking spaces. They don’t give speeches in your garage or basement.